Green Chemistry Awards Recognize Industrial Biotechnology Companies for Energy, Cost Savings

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, June 20, 2011) - Industrial biotechnology improves production of building block chemicals used in everyday products, saving energy, lowering costs, and reducing pollution from manufacturing. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today congratulated member companies Genomatica Inc. and BioAmber Inc on receiving Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.

“Industrial biotechnology is the most promising path to efficient, clean production of chemicals and biofuels. It is already being used to produce everyday products more efficiently, to replace fossil resources with renewable ones, and to clean the environment,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “BIO congratulates our members who have been recognized through the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards for their pioneering advances in applying industrial biotechnology to green chemistry. Their achievements show that more widespread adoption of industrial biotechnology processes can help establish a new path for sustainable economic growth and job creation, without continued reliance on foreign oil.”

Genomatica Inc. is recognized with an award for production of basic chemicals from renewable feedstocks at lower cost. The company’s biological production of biobased 1,4-butanediol (Bio-BDO) can reduce the cost to build a chemical plant, reduce the production and operating cost, reduce energy use by 60 percent, and reduce greenhouse gases by 70 percent. 1,4-butanediol is used in products like spandex and automotive plastics.

Genomatica has been successfully producing Bio-BDO at pilot scale since the first half of 2010 and is moving to demonstration-scale production of two tons per week in 2011.  The company’s biotechnology allows it to rapidly develop organisms and cost-effective manufacturing processes to make chemicals from ‘sustainable’ ingredients – including conventional sugars, cellulosic biomass and syngas – rather than crude oil or natural gas hydrocarbons. Multiple chemical companies have successfully tested Genomatica’s Bio-BDO as an ingredient for common polymers.

BioAmber Inc. is recognized for integrated production and downstream applications of biobased succinic acid. Succinic acid, commonly referred to as amber acid, is a key building block for a wide range of secondary chemicals used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food and agricultural industries. Until now, the high cost of producing succinic acid from fossil fuels has restricted its use. The company’s process uses 60 percent less energy, costs 40 percent less, and offers a smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuel based succinic acid. BioAmber’s biosuccinic acid can also substitute for other chemicals like adipic acid in traditional polymers and serve as the starting material for the production of chemicals such as 1,4-butanediol (BDO) and tetrahydrofuran (THF).

BioAmber’s biotech process can produce succinate esters for use as nontoxic solvents, substitutes for phthalates in polymers, as well as biodegradable plastics. The company’s modified PBS (mPBS) biodegradable plastic can be used to replace plastics made from oil in any number of applications, from everyday disposable items like coffee cup lids and cutlery to durable applications like medical devices, office equipment and vehicle components. Green solvents, green plasticizers and biorenewable plastics are among the applications in development.

For more information on industrial biotechnology processes for green chemistry, please read BIO’s fact sheet Biotech Solutions for Renewable Specialty Chemicals & Food Ingredients.

About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.